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Special Sunday - Canada Day

canada-day-614290_640Today is Canada Day! It's a pretty special day around here and though I don't usually post on Sundays, I am.

But it isn't just the fact that it's Canada Day that made me want to post. I read an article where my friend was interviewed and that is what moved me. It's an article about Canada as an ideal vs the reality for many indigenous people.

I've always been aware of some people disliking natives, but I've never understood it.

Maybe it's because my own family would've been pretty screwed without them.

I don't know the circumstances behind my own family living on a reserve when my mother was born over 70 years ago. It upsets me that I don't know. There are pieces of our history that have been scrubbed away. My mother was raised by her grandmother and her step grandfather after her real grandfather passed away. Her grandfather was from Scotland and her grandmother from Sweden. She was also raised by her mother, but believed her mother to be her sister. Her own father has been erased from history, so there's a hole in our family.

The indigenous people and my family lived together on the same land. My mom had indigenous friends growing up and so did I, though I recall my one friend's family commenting on how it was different that I didn't care they were native. I thought that was a weird thing to say. We're all just people to me. Yeah, we do some things different. My ancestors wear plaid kilts and our war instrument is the bagpipes. Other countries bang large drums. We all have different dances. Different, yet similar.

Anyway, my maternal family came over in the late 1800s. They lived on a reserve. Scottish folk traded recipes like Bannock, not that the First Nations people didn't already have a type of bread, but Bannock is a Scottish word. I don't know everything else that went down and it should've been taught to me in school. Another reason to consider home-schooling...

I have no idea whether or not my family had any role in the ugliness or were just people looking for a new home. Or maybe they were civilians sent to settle there. Maybe they needed work and this is where the work was.

All I know is the Canada I want is one where we don't run around flinging undeserved, bigoted insults at people. The Canada I want is one where we accept differences because of true tolerance and not just what is trendy.

I agree with Jay that we need to fix real racism like what he experienced. It's 2018 and we should be done with that kind of crap. Jay should've never had to deal with such a woman at the mall.

I always wonder where it comes from though. My dad used to tell a lot of racist jokes, but he was from a town that had fewer people than my high school and there were several high schools in my area. Have these people actually had bad experiences like a person who avoids dogs after being bitten? Are they just ignorant? Are they really just jerks? A combination of the above? Case by case, I think they all have different reasons. Are their own family members struggling to survive and they believe, rightly or wrongly, it's a certain group at fault? Maybe.

I know my dad is a lot more open-minded after years working at the city with a diverse group of people and having a black doctor probably helped too. Incidentally, that doctor and his family were the first to come to my hometown. I delivered catalogues as a child and one day when a black woman answered the door, I immediately averted my eyes. Why? Because I didn't want to stare at her because I was taught staring was rude. She probably thought I was weird or rude for not looking at her. Up until then, I had only seen black people on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Family Matters. I was shocked when a little girl on the bus asked if she could touch this young man's hair and so was her mother, but he was cool with it.

I think part of the way forward will need to be to stop crying wolf. Many things happen that aren't because of racism that people want to pin on racism today. There can be legitimate security concerns. There can be simple personality clashes. There can be someone who is a better fit to fill a job vacancy because of the cumulative experience they have. There can be people who have been traumatized. I think it's likely that early on after WWII ended, the average Jewish person wasn't rushing to befriend a German person because not every real Nazi was found and dispatched or incarcerated. That war still affects a lot of people over 50 years later, yet it is expected that people forget what happened in 2001 only 17 years later while many still grieve for loved ones.

I want Canada to be wonderful. For that to happen, we all need to be willing to talk about some ugly things and consider all angles rather than immediately pointing fingers or having an ulterior motive to win the conversation or make the opponent look bad. That doesn't solve anything.

We should all want to fix the problems regardless of who created them and who plans to fix them. This is a centrist viewpoint. Remember when people said countries need a strong centre? Lately, the centre has been demonized for not choosing a side. The point of the centre was always to evaluate all aspects before declaring an action correct or not.

Canada is a beautiful country. There are a lot of great things about it, but there are some areas that are immensely broken too. We shouldn't have First Nations people still without clean drinking water. The average person probably thinks that one news report showing one home on one reserve turning on their new tap as evidence it has been fixed. The problem is larger than just new plumbing.

Media is part of the problem in my opinion. We see articles or video clips and forget to go out and talk to real humans without screens. Some articles are likely geared to encourage us to think things that aren't true.

From what I've seen, the best parts of Canada are experienced offline. Many people hardly log in to social media platforms though they have accounts that are technically active.

Tonight I'm off to a small country celebration far from the festivities on Parliament. These events are where regular people hang out rarely glancing at their phones, preferring instead to talk to each other. Diverse viewpoints are shared without name-calling or violence, which I think is truly amazing. I actually witnessed polite discourse regarding Mr. Orange where the two people disagreed. I didn't know that could happen!

I got off on a tangent there, but I hope whatever you have planned for today you enjoy it in your own way.

Happy Canada Day!


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